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Doctors and Drug Companies May Be Liable for Medication Side Effects

There are side effects with just about any prescription medication. For many patients, the decision to take a specific medication comes only after the benefits of the medication are weighed against the possible side effects, which range from minor annoyances to serious medical risks.

Legal News GavelThe laundry list of side effects that can be found on the internet and pharmacy receipts is generally discovered through the use of clinical trials. A medication with potential benefits to a specific class of patients is tested and retested to determine its efficacy as well as its risks. Doctors are then guided by the results of these trials. This evidence-based approach to prescribing medication helps doctors better predict how well medications will work in a given patient, and what the side effects of the medication are likely to be.

The evidence produced in clinical trials and reviewed by doctors also helps establish what is known in legal and medical circles as a “standard of care.” Doctors comprehensively review published material on a given medical condition or conditions and try to reach a consensus about how best to treat patients, taking into account all of their medical conditions, as well as other factors like their age, medical history, and additional medications.

In Illinois, when a doctor or hospital fails to provide services that adhere to a settled standard of care, that health care provider may be liable for negligence, or “medical malpractice.” If a patient is injured or dies as a result of this negligence, the patient or the patient’s loved one can sue for damages, including pain and suffering.

Despite ongoing clinical trials and the near-continuous review of new medical data, sometimes medications cause unexpected side effects that either were not known when a new standard of care was established, or were known but believed to occur with much less frequency than they actually occurred. If these side effects are dangerous, and they require that patients change the course of their treatment in order to avoid serious harm, a new standard of care may be established.

Keeping up with evolving standards of care is challenging for any doctor, especially if the doctor is engaged in a daily clinical practice. With so many new medications being tested, and new medical studies being published every day, it may be harder than ever for doctors to comply with the current standard of care for a given patient population. But challenging as it is, if a doctor fails to keep up with important changes in his or her field of medicine, an injured patient may be entitled to compensation.

In some cases, when a standard of care calls for a certain medication, and that medication causes unexpected and dangerous side effects to some of the patients taking the medication, the federal government will issue warnings about the dangers of the drug and recommendations relating to its use in certain situations.

This occurred recently with several drugs used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The medications help lower a diabetic’s blood sugar level by causing glucose to be secreted in a patient’s urine. However, according to one news source, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that it has received over 70 reports of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition associated with a buildup of acids in the blood, and 19 reports of serious urinary tract infections for patients taking the drugs.

As a result of these unanticipated side effects, the FDA issued warnings and recommendations to doctors about the proper use of the medications. While it is unclear at this point how these recommendations will affect treatment for diabetes in the long term, it is quite possible that they will alter the standard of care in a way that all doctors will incorporate into their daily clinical practice.

Have You Been Injured By a Prescription Medication?

As a patient, you are likely to follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to prescription medications. After all, it is the doctor’s job, not yours, to know the proper medications and dosages that are appropriate in your situation. But sometimes doctors prescribe medications without considering certain crucial facts about your condition, medical history, or other medications. Or perhaps a doctor prescribes the appropriate medication, but it turns out later that the medication causes side effects that the drug manufacturer failed to disclose. In either of these cases, if you were injured in any way, you may be eligible for compensation. The lawyers at Moll Law Group are committed to helping you feel whole again. Our lawyers have the experience and knowledge to help you if you have been injured by prescription medication. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.

See More Posts:

Child Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.

Public Schools Enjoy Some Level of Immunity for Injuries to Students, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 16, 2015.

Emergency Room Errors May Amount to Medical Malpractice, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 7, 2015.

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